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The Tetris Effect in Real Life - Sammi Jaeger

romantic relationship Dec 01, 2021

Hey Hey,

Have you ever played Tetris?

I grew up in the 90’s so my first hours with the game were clocked on a black and white gameboy.

If you were born later than me, you might not be familiar so to make sure the rest of this story makes sense here is a quick outline of the game: Tetris is a simple puzzle game where different shapes called "tetrominoes" fall from the top of the screen and then the player has to arrange them to form gapless lines, the more complete lines you create, the faster the blocks fall.

I have vivid memories of my mum kicking mine and my brother's ass wiping out her own record over and over again on long road trips as we each took turns playing while dad drove. My turn would be over quickly and mums would last for ages! I’m sure she still holds the top record in the hundreds on a retired gameboy somewhere in my grandparents garage.

Anyway, the reason I’m reminiscing about Tetris with you is for a worthwhile insight I want to share with you.

If someone plays Tetris for a prolonged amount of time, they can find themselves thinking about how different shapes in the real world can fit together and all of a sudden the boxes on supermarket shelves or the buildings on a street start to resemble Tetris shapes. Some people even see colored images of pieces falling into place on an invisible layout at the edges of their visual fields or when they close their eyes.

This is called The Tetris Effect and it occurs when people devote so much time and attention to an activity that it begins to pattern their thoughts, mental images, and dreams.

Kinda amazing hey?

Spend enough time doing or thinking about something and you start to see it out in the real world.

I’ve been experiencing my very own Tetris Effect this year that's become somewhat of a ritual with my dear friend Karla. 

Living in Sydney, Karla and I have both spent a large chunk of our time in 2021 in government enforced lockdowns. This has meant we’ve both been working from home most of the time and taking daily walks within close proximity of our homes. The same routes day in and day out for months. 

I’m not entirely sure how the practice started but each day while out on our respective walks, we each snap a photo of a flower that catches our attention and send it to the other. 

It’s amazing how quickly I’ve trained myself to look for beauty and now I see beautiful flowers absolutely everywhere, even in places I’ve walked past hundreds of times before. They were always there. I just wasn't looking for them or really seeing them. That beauty had blurred into the background of my life and I was missing it. Busy focusing on something else.

But now, not only am I now seeing these beautiful flowers and being more mindful and present on my walks but across spring I’ve been witness to the stunning transformations from bud to bloom consciously looking for new petals each day. Stopping to take a photo and then share it is the next level of appreciation.

Karla and I were reflecting on the practice a few days ago and it kinda sums it up.

This is great Sammi but umm WTF do Tetris and flowers have to do with me and my relationship?

When was the last time you actively looked for the great things your person does each day? Those small, little, beautiful moments that have perhaps blurred into the background.

The coffee they made you
The forehead kiss while you were on the phone
The thoughtful text they sent
The time spent doing something you wanted to do 
The small treat they brought home for you

What would happen if you started to actively look for those moments and took a second to really appreciate each of them each day?

I’m continuing to devote time and attention to the great things Nath does each day and once I’ve started really noticing them, they’ve become so easy to spot. No longer blurred in the background but front and centre.

This week's Fuel Up is to encourage you to turn your own relationship Tetris Effect on.

Sammi Jaeger


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